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Turkey Ends ‘Euphrates Shield’ Operation in Syria

  • VOA News

FILE - Turkish tanks stationed near the Syrian border, Sept. 3, 2016. Turkey's state-run news agency says Turkish tanks have entered Syria's Cobanbey district northeast of Aleppo in a "new phase" of the Euphrates Shield operation.

Turkey is declaring an end to its 7-month-old operation in northern Syria to clear Islamic State militants and Syrian Kurds from the region along its border.

It is not clear to what extent Turkey’s military operations will change inside northern Syria, where the Syrian government, Islamic State, Kurdish forces and rebel groups are all competing for territory.

“Operation Euphrates Shield has been successful and is finished. Any operation following this one will have a different name,” Prime Minister Binali Yildirim told NTV television.

The operation began in August with Turkish forces and Turkey-backed Syrian rebels focused on the Islamic State-held town of Jarablus. The militants controlled a stretch of border territory extending 40 kilometers to the west but have since been pushed out.

Turkey also feared that Syrian Kurds would try to take over that same territory, providing a link to areas under their control in northeastern and northwestern Syria.

The Turkish government considers the Kurdish fighters an extension of the Kurdistan Worker’s Party, or PKK, that has been waging a three-decade insurgency in southeastern Turkey.

Turkish officials have objected to the idea of the Kurds taking part in a future offensive to knock Islamic State out of their de facto capital in Raqqa, Syria. Planning for that fight has highlighted the complicated nature of the conflict in Syria and the many players involved.

The United States, which leads a coalition of militaries conducting airstrikes against Islamic State, supports the Kurdish fighters and sees them as an effective force against the militant group.

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